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Landmark Gay Rights Ruling In Russia


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Landmark Gay Rights Ruling In Russia

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: September 22, 2005 5:00 pm ET

(St. Petersburg, Russia) A St. Petersburg court has ruled that a man cannot be denied a job because he is gay - the first such ruling by a court in Russian history.

The case involved a man identified only as VP. He went to court after being refused a job with the Russian State Railways because of a notation on government military records that listed him as having a mental disorder.

In 1992 he was denied military service because he is gay. At the time, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. His official government file and his military card carried the disorder notation and he was required to attend periodic psychiatric assessments.

Russia no longer considers homosexuality to be a mental illness but the military has refused to amend his records.

When VP applied for the railway job his "disorder" was used to exclude him from employment.

The court ruled that it is illegal to use military data to restrict human rights and that the diagnosis of VP was based exclusively on his sexuality. Additionally, the court re-stated that homosexuality is not a mental disorder.

"The decision of the St. Petersburg court is a huge breakthrough in Russia for LGBT rights," said Nikolai Alekseev, head of LGBT civil rights organization GayRussia.ru.

But while VP won his case it may have little effect on other gays stigmatized by government records claiming they suffer from "a disorder".

The Russian legal system does not recognize precedent, and the case would not be binding on other judges.

Nevertheless, Alekseev said he is hopeful other judges will agree with the St. Petersburg ruling.

"The ball has started to roll and the court system is no longer immune to gay emancipation," he said.

The case is particularly important to Alekseev. He has his own wrongful dismissal suit pending against Lomonosov Moscow State University.

The case was denied in June by a local court in Moscow. On September 9 the Moscow City Court confirmed the decision of the lower court. Currently a complaint is being drafted to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg.

©365Gay.com 2005


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